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July 29, 2009 > From Hollywood to Hayward

From Hollywood to Hayward

By Simon Wong

The City of Hayward has a nascent Film & Media Task Force thanks to Councilor Anna May.

A 30-strong production crew from Roaring Tiger Films shot Radio Shack's latest 15-second commercial in an office cubicle on the second floor of Hayward City Hall on Thursday, July 16.

The crew was present from 5 p.m. until 3 a.m. It took approximately four hours just to assemble and dismantle equipment.

The shoot itself consisted of repeated takes of the same scene with different lighting, different camera angles and different activity. Complete silence was required during each take. The subject, an office worker, works late into the night and bursts into song, thinking he is alone. He is startled by someone with a video camera, a Radio Shack product, recording his antics.

"This is pretty typical for this type of project. A big car commercial may require more than 100 crew members. It's crazy," said Production Supervisor James Raymond. "We all have varying amounts of work at different times... some less than others," was his excellent riposte when questioned about the size of the crew.

"Crew members are typically freelance. When a client wants a commercial from an advertising agency, a production company will be commissioned to film it. The production company then assembles production, camera and sound, grip and electric, art and styling, locations and other crews whose members are hired from different agencies," explained Office Production Assistant Will Chesney.

Councilor Anna May is also a film actress. Director Wilson Wu cast her in "Hiro and Company" several years ago. Wu also works as a location scout and manager.

"The Hayward Film & Media Task Force is in its infancy. It will be designed to attract film-makers and location scouts to Hayward to assist with the City's economic development. Tonight's TV commercial shoot for Radio Shack will bring $1,200 into the City's treasury and pay for security and an electrician for the evening. So we're providing jobs, too," explained May.

The shoot coincided with one of Hayward's summer street parties which drew the film crew to the Downtown area. The presence of classic and vintage cars proved a boon for Gang Boss Joe Hunter who sources vehicles for films.

The City Hall rotunda could become an airport setting. As for Hayward Executive Airport, the location is a "jewel." Film-makers prefer to shoot at airports that are not as busy as the major ones, such as San Francisco Airport, which also levy hefty fees. Moreover, Hayward's airport is considered the best executive, general aviation airport in the Bay Area.

Wu and his team of location scouts are interested in a closer inspection of Hayward's industrial and residential areas, historical buildings, the Downtown... the whole City. City Manager Greg Jones and Economic Development Director Sean Brooks will arrange a tour so the location scouts can see what is available.

"There's a lot of 'hurry up and wait' on a film set," said Councilor May succinctly. All spectators, ranging from City staff to commissioners, were intrigued by the venture and delighted that Hayward might be the backdrop for future cinematic undertakings that will bring revenue to the City.

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